Canada’s forefathers had a grand vision for the west when they sent Clifford Sifton to Europe in the late 1890s to attract farmers and labourers to come to Canada and homestead on our vast, barren prairies as a national railway was being built.
Between 1901 and 1914, more than 750,000 immigrants came to start a new life, breaking new ground, and building new communities to call home.
Over the decades since, towns and cities grew, infrastructure was built, and industries began to thrive, primarily along the rail lines. Farmers and ranchers continued what their parents and grandparents had started and family trees were taking root in the new province. The taming of the west was happening at a rapid pace.
Schools were being built; as were hospitals and businesses. With its wealth of natural resources, prime agricultural land, and a population filled with hard-working folks who were fulfilling the dreams of their forefathers, Alberta soon became a place that others wanted to be a part of. Corporations were investing in the province and people were flocking here to seek out their own paths to success. With its low taxes, superior social services, a landscape envied around the world, and excellent quality of life, the Alberta Advantage was born and the province was excelling at leaps and bounds.
On Sept. 1, Alberta (and Saskatchewan) will each celebrate their 111th birthday, and each has plenty to celebrate. Alberta has come a long way since the province’s first premier Alexander Rutherford signed on the dotted line. Sure the province has gone through and endured its share of bumps and bruises over the years; but we have always come out the other side stronger and more determined.
The economy is in pretty bad shape, thanks in part to the persistently low oil prices. Also, the current NDP government is hell-bent on pushing forward with its own agenda and ideologies at all costs. The world is changing and Alberta is changing with it, but it needs to change and grow at a pace that is not going to be damaging to the livelihoods of its people or business. The Alberta Advantage is a thing of the past, at least for the time being, as corporations move their interests elsewhere, taking valuable jobs and potential revenue with them.
What Alberta is experiencing now as its 111th birthday approaches is not growing pains or the hiccups that come with putting visions into action. The NDP government can not be blamed for the low oil prices, but it sure can be blamed for increasing corporate taxes, imposing unrealistic carbon taxes and freight taxes as it attempts to rush the process. More harm than good will be done in this fine province by their hasty decisions. If only they could look at the big picture as the early homesteaders did and till one row at a time patiently and methodically. The long-term results would perhaps be more successful and well-received by Albertans.
Despite all of its warts that have emerged on the surface of the province over that past few years, deep down Alberta is one of the most beautiful, and its people some of the most hard-working and dedicated in the country. Alberta will once again be a thriving province; have no doubt about that.
On Thursday, we will celebrate the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that have taken place over the past 111 years which have made this province such a great place to call home.